The Unraveling of Short Form Content: Why Companies are Pivoting Away
April 27, 2023
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by Stephen Kanyi

In recent years, short form content has taken the world by storm, with platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and even YouTube introducing bite-sized videos to capture users’ attention. The rise of short form content has propelled TikTok to global fame, but now, some companies are rethinking this strategy. With Instagram’s Reels proving less profitable than anticipated, and TikTok pivoting towards longer videos, the question arises: why are companies backing away from short form content?

A False Premise: The Short Attention Span Myth

The common narrative for the popularity of short form content has been that people’s attention spans have been shrinking, leading to a preference for quick, easily digestible content.
However, recent developments suggest that this may not be entirely accurate. While short form content is excellent at grabbing attention, it may not be the most sustainable model for creators, advertisers, and audiences in the long run.

Reasons Companies are Backing Off

Unloyal Creators: The reality is that most creators struggle to find success in the short form content arena. Many are eager to transition to long form content, where they can explore their ideas and creativity more in-depth.

Hesitant Advertisers: Advertisers have been slow to embrace short form content, as the limited time available in these videos is not conducive to building brand presence and gaining audience attention. Additionally, big brands often perceive short form content as risky and may be reluctant to associate their products with it.

A Waning Audience: Audiences are growing weary of content that serves only as attention grabbers, lacking substance and depth. The short attention span narrative may have been vastly overstated and even exacerbated by the pandemic. In 2021, TikTok was the number one platform globally, but in 2022, it fell to number three, with Google reclaiming the top spot. This trend could continue, with TikTok facing a fate similar to Vine.

The Consequences: A Shift in Strategy

The combination of unloyal creators, hesitant advertisers, and a waning audience has led companies to rethink their approach to short form content. Ironically, Meta had been paying creators to produce Reels for Instagram, only for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to later reveal that the shift to Reels was costing the company $500 million every quarter.

Even TikTok, the driving force behind short form content, is pivoting towards longer videos, extending their maximum length from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. This move signals a transition towards a more YouTube-like platform, as the company recognizes the limitations of short form content.

Conclusion: Short Form Content as an Addition, Not a Replacement

As companies reevaluate their strategies, it’s becoming clear that short form content is no longer seen as a replacement for long form content but rather as an addition to it. Creators are using short form content as a springboard to launch their careers, while advertisers remain cautious about investing in the format, and audiences continue to crave more in-depth, substantial content.

In the end, the short form content boom may have been a fleeting moment in the ever-evolving landscape of social media and content creation. As platforms like TikTok and Instagram adjust their focus, the industry will continue to adapt to the needs and desires of creators, advertisers, and audiences alike.

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